Friday, November 20, 2009


Pretty Darned Cold

November can be pretty darned cold, and this year it's colder than most. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner we could set a new record low today and/or tonight. The current temperature here at my place of employment, in the White Mountains, is -12 F (-24 C). According to Weather Underground the temperature near home is -30 F (-34 C).

The forecast is calling for a cold weekend, and then warming to more seasonal temperatures early next week. By the time I get off duty and back home we should be seeing temperatures hovering close to zero, which is actually pretty comfortable.

We haven't seen any new snow in the past week or so. On the Sled Dog Central message board, Mike Ellis (recent arrival in Two Rivers) reported that a few mushers are running small teams on sleds, but the trails are pretty rough and the majority of big-team mushers are still using their four-wheelers to train dogs. I guess I'll just have to scope out the trail conditions for myself when I get back home, and make my training decisions based on what I see.

Bad Economy Impacting Alaska

Often the economy in Alaska holds up well compared to the rest of the nation, but that hasn't necessarily held true during the current "Great Recession". Last summer's tourist season was pretty much a bust, and things don't seem to be improving much. According to the State Department of Labor the state had about 6,000 fewer jobs last month than in October 2008. When you consider that we have a population only a bit more than 600,000, that's pretty significant.

It isn't over yet. Some of the oil companies are making changes that will result in even fewer jobs. ConocoPhilips has announced they will not be drilling an exploratory well next year, and B.P. (who just donated a cool $1million dollars to archive former senator Ted Stevens papers) is reducing spending in Alaska by 15%. Other actions within the petroleum industry indicate the focus is on cutting costs to the greatest extent possible, even when doing so may be rather short sighted.

In spite of the October job losses Alaska is still doing better than most of the Lower-48. Our current unemployment rate is about 8.9%, compared to 10.2% nationally.

Adoption Awareness

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. To celebrate, I thought I'd share a little story my sister sent this morning in an Email:

Teacher Debbie Moon's first graders were discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had a different hair color than the other members. One of her students suggested that he was adopted. A little girl said, 'I know all about adoption, I was adopted..'

'What does it mean to be adopted?', asked another child.

'It means', said the girl, 'that you grew in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy!'

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